The Latest Threat to Siberian Tigers: Canine Distemper

Siberian tiger Amur tiger have canine distemper in Siberia, Russian Far East
Rare Siberian tigers face a new threat. (Photograph by John Goodrich)

Talking Tigers: Part 8 of a 12-part series

The first signs that something was wrong came in 2000. Gaunt Siberian tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) began wandering through villages and staggered haltingly across roads in Russia’s Far East. They were dazed, hungry and boldly unafraid of humans, extremely odd behavior for this secretive, wary animal.

One of them was a skinny tigress named Galia, an animal that researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society had outfitted with a satellite collar. After several failed attempts to capture her, she was shot by police. Her three cubs were discovered nearby, dead. She’d been too sick to hunt, and had stumbled into a town to grab a cow, a pig, a dog, any easy prey to feed her starving family. Galia was the fourth collared study animal that the biologists lost that year. All of them died under puzzling circumstances.

Canine distemper virus in an African wild dog. (Wikicommons)

Autopsies revealed the presence of some type of morbillivirus, a family of highly contagious viruses that infect people, dogs, and wildlife. (The word derives from morbus, meaning plague.) But —> Read More Here


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